George Stephanopoulos: “But you had inspectors in the country [Iraq]. Why was it necessary to invade–”
Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld: Saddam Hussein “had thrown them out about the second or third or fourth time.”
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the timeline as we marched into Iraq knows that Mr. Rumsfeld is lying here. (I could say ‘obfuscating’ or ‘fabricating’ or ‘dissembling’ – I believe these are the words our media prefer, ‘lying’ being so, well, so succinct. So it’s just not done my dear – unless of course you’re Rep. Joe Wilson and then you can call the President of the United States a liar in front of the whole world.)
Or maybe the old fellow really doesn’t know what happened in that war he led.
The departure of the inspectors in 2003 is much more clear-cut: They wanted to keep looking for weapons of mass destruction and reported that Iraq was showing increasing cooperation. But the Bush administration clearly had its own timetable for military action.
From November 2002 through February 2003, the inspection teams conducted more than 760 inspections of 500 sites. Hans Blix, who headed what had been renamed UNMOVIC, reported there was no evidence of active chemical or biological weapons programs or stockpiles.
The IAEA reported no evidence of any kind of reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In a March 2003 appearance before the Security Council, then-IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei (now active in the Egyptian protests) went even further, directly disputing key pieces of evidence that the American administration had touted in its case for war.
Blix, in his memoir “Disarming Iraq,” notes that in early March he began getting warnings from senior U.S. and British officials about the safety of the inspectors. Then the company that supplied helicopters for the teams withdrew its equipment from Iraq.
The inspections ended quickly. On March 17, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the inspectors would be withdrawn. A day later, they left the country. On March 19, the U.S.-led invasion began, without explicit authority from the Security Council. (The Arms Control Association has another timeline, while the Congressional Research Service has an excellent report on the inspections.)
No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.